Many would have gone into the 2021 T20 World Cup by backing the likes of the West Indies who have power players from number one to eleven, but the story of the competition so far has been completely different. The pitches in the UAE aren’t conducive to stroke play and a target of 140-150 is difficult to chase against a quality bowling lineup. This competition would be a slight letdown for people expecting boundaries and sixes every second ball, but will for sure produce some competitive cricket throughout.
From the initial phase of the tournament, we’ve jotted down five key points that the teams need to work on if they are to be successful in the 2021 T20 World Cup.
MAKE THE MOST OF THE POWERPLAY
The powerplay is the key both from the batting and the bowling perspective. The team that wins the battle of the powerplay more often than not comes out on top in T20 games in the UAE. We’ve seen that in the first few games in the competition as well. A team like Pakistan who is looking the strongest so far have bowlers like Shaheen Afridi, who has the ability to make the new ball talk. He has the ability to pick early wickets and put the opposition on the back foot straight away as we saw in the match against India.
From the batters perspective, the powerplay would be the only phase where the ball would actually come onto the bat at a decent speed and it is imperative that they cash in against the fast bowlers in the first six overs. When the spinners come into play in the middle phase, the focus would move towards the rotation of strike. At the back end of the innings, hitting sixes out of the park has been difficult to execute so far. Hence the powerplay is the key if teams want to win the 2021 T20 World Cup.
HAVE SPINNERS WHO CAN BOWL FAST INTO THE WICKET
We’ve seen over the years that spinners are the real wicket-takers in the T20 format. So in this competition as well, spinners would have a key role to play. But the spinners who survive on guile and flight won’t taste much success given the nature of wickets on show. There isn’t much turn to extract from the wicket so you need spinners who bowl fast into the wicket at hard lengths that the batters find difficult to score off.
BOWLERS WITH GENUINE PACE AND VARIATIONS
Bowlers who have the ability to bowl over 145 kmph regularly are a different beast to face in T20 cricket. Bowlers like Haris Rauf, who can bowl at around 150 kmph on a consistent basis and can also bowl the odd slower delivery is the most dangerous bowler to face in these conditions. Hence, we are seeing him taste success in this tournament so far. But pace without accuracy is pointless, so you need genuine pace bowlers who have the ability to nail yorkers on will and bowl slower balls to bamboozle the batter.
A BATTER WHO COULD PLAY FOR 20 OVERS
Much has been made about the role of a sheet anchor in T20 cricket but interestingly the 2021 T20 World Cup is showing us the importance of having such a batter in the XI. Pitches here in the UAE need batters to apply themselves and try to stick an innings together. It is impossible to go all guns blazing from ball one here and batters like Virat Kohli, Babar Azam, Dawid Malan, Mohammad Rizwan, Kane Williamson and Steve Smith would be key for their teams if they are to win the championship. These are batters who have the ability to rotate the strike in the middle phase and end with a flourish, exactly what you need to have the difference of 15-20 runs at the end that could win you a game.
BATTING SECOND A MAJOR ADVANTAGE
The last point is something no captain has any control over. It is based on pure luck but this does improve your chances of winning considerably. Batting second in the UAE is a pure advantage as the dew sets in late and the pitch becomes easier to bat on. The bowlers find it hard to grip the ball and have a target set in their mind, while batters can pace their innings accordingly.